Our Team

Program Staff

Anne Gaines, Interim Program Director

Anne Gaines is an Associate Professor of Contemporary Art Practice at Parsons School of Design.  Anne is a participatory design practitioner that collaborates with community based partners and addresses institution building through questions of access and exploring alternative transdisciplinary, generative and inclusive learning spaces that directly confront the constraints and limitations of the status-quo, higher ed classroom. As a long time contributor to the Parsons Scholars Program, Anne is the current interim program director, and is actively learning from the brilliance of these youth.  Anne has received grants from the Surdna Foundation, the Luce Charitable Trust, the Coyne Family Foundation among others and was recently a collaborator on a project funded by the National Science Foundation with researchers from the Center for Children and Technology. 

Estelle Maisonett, Program Administrator

Estelle Maisonett, is a Latinx artist and administrator, born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She holds a BFA in Painting & Drawing from SUNY Purchase College and maintains a mixed-media studio practice in NYC. She is passionate about using art and education as a platform to create environments and communities that empower historically under-served populations through a social justice lens. Drawing from the many identities she carries as a Mexican- American, Puerto-Rican, queer, woman, she creates large scale mixed-media collages that explore how identity is perceived through consumption. Exploring the urban landscape, she collects consumer trash that is collaged and documented in larger works. Her collages of face-less figures, made with clothing, and found items such as newspapers, generate conversations about economic access, social branding, and perception of identity. Estelle Maisonett has participated in residencies and exhibitions in and around NYC.

Juliet Gomez, College Access Coordinator

Juliet Gomez has recently joined the Parsons Scholars Program as their College Access Coordinator. Juliet is a native New Yorker who was educated in the public school system,  graduated from CUNY Brooklyn College after majoring in film production, and then attended NYU Gallatin where she studied educational theater and social work. Her master's thesis "Do You Fools Listen to Music or Just Skim Through It?: Locating Trauma Through Hip-Hop" examined the interconnectedness of trauma, hip-hop and hip-hop as a tool for healing in the hip-hop community.

She's been working in education for 16 years, and has been working in college access full time for the last 5. Juliet believes education is a social justice issue and is dedicated to helping young people design the most meaningful post-secondary pathways for themselves and their families.

Senior Advocates

Nelson De Jesus Ubri, Youth Advocate

Nelson De Jesus Ubri is a first-generation Dominican-American residing in the Bronx, NY. He received a BFA in Architectural Design from Parsons The New School for Design and is now pursuing a Master of Architecture at Columbia University’s GSAPP. A multidisciplinary designer, he has been developing Upstream-Downstream. It is a research project that analyzes the Dominican Republic's infrastructure and architecture as a case study to better understand a country's vulnerabilities in the North Atlantic Hurricane Basin. He was awarded a Fulbright to further his research in 2017. Nelson is also an instructor at Dimension Learning, a non-profit organization that provides STEM programs to NYC students. He teaches middle school students about 3D printing and Computer-Aided Design (CAD).

As a program alumnus himself, Nelson is eager to work with the newer generations of Parsons Scholars to assist and guide them with their higher education goals and exploration of art and design.

Havanna Fisher, Youth Advocate

Havanna is a budding interdisciplinary artist from Harlem who works across the fields of design, performing arts and film. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design from Parsons and a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in dance from Eugene Lang. She has a profound interest in using the skills and techniques that she has acquired to combine the arts with education to bring about political awareness and thus probable change within the American landscape of ideological identity.

Senior Mentors

Daniel Vargas, Mentor

Daniel is a Bronx-based interdisciplinary artist and first year BFA student at the Parsons School of Design. He graduated from Bronx High School for Visual Arts and enjoys using his imagination to create work in photography, painting, and illustration. His photography highlights small unnoticed objects in our everyday lives. Daniel’s work has been exhibited in the Museum of Chinese in America and The Bronx Museum. Daniel is also an undocumented student, which he has used as an aspect in some of his works, highlighting his culture and beliefs through photography, and paintings. He wants to help people bring out who they are, realize their potential and make them feel proud of their own culture and heritage. Daniel has worked in the past with first year High School students as a Peer Group Connections Leader, teaching the values of education and identity. 


Priscilla Villacres, Mentor

Priscilla Villacres (she/her) is a passionate artist and activist from South Queens. She is the product of Ecuadorian and Colombian parents. She is a multi media artist who has a strong appreciation for paint and fine arts media. Her work explores both her personal life and struggles, and her observations with marginalized folk in the 21st century. 

Priscilla is a recent graduate of The High School of Art & Design as well as the Parsons Scholars Program, and she now attends Parsons School of Design. She has been awarded a plethora of artistic and academic awards. She has exhibited at MoMa, Parsons School of Design, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


John Edwards, Mentor

John Edwards is an emerging artist and designer. He was born and raised in Spanish Harlem to parents who immigrated from the Dominican Republic. John’s interests are in animation, especially in storyboarding and character design which has guided his love for creating not only digital art, but more traditional works like frame by frame short films on paper. With cartoons being one of his favorite forms of media, it was only natural for animation to be the next step in his career. He is currently studying Illustration at the Parsons School of Art, Media and Technology.


Junior Advocates

Deja Holden, Youth Advocate

Deja Holden is a systems thinker interested in the ways people connect with each other and form community. She received her BFA from Parsons School of Design in Communication Design and her BA from Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts in Political Science. She is originally from the Bronx and is super excited to support the Scholars in whatever paths they choose to take.

Sophia Mak, Youth Advocate

Sophia Mak is a queer, gender non conforming, chinese-american maker and performer, currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Sophia received their BA in studio art and cultural anthropology from Bard College and their MA from NYU's Dept. of Art & Public Policy (Tisch). Sophia uses performance as a method for decolonization and research to explore east asian trans-masculinities, intergenerational trauma, and ancestral connection through the racial metaphor of the banana. An alumni of The Hemispheric Institute’s EMERGENYC, Sophia continues their life investigations as an artist, youth worker, first-gen child of immigrants, dedicated friend and sibling.

Junior Mentors

Jeanette Torres Molina, Mentor

Jeanette Torres Molina is a proud Mexican-American multimedia artist and the eldest of three children. Born in the late 2000s and raised in various parts of Brooklyn, she has always grown up surrounded by a big loving family, who have become one of her biggest support systems even though art wasn't always considered as a way to make a living. Many in her family have given up music, painting, drawing, and photography because of the ideologies of what a career was, only to regret not following through. This was only another obstacle she had to face.

Jeanette’s artwork has been recognized for its political and cultural themes and she has been awarded the Alexander Medal, Presented by The School Art League. She has exhibited at the Brooklyn Borough Arts Festival, Brooklyn High School of the Arts, and Parsons.

Emily Xie, Mentor

Emily Xie is Chinese-American artist, born in New York City. She is currently pursuing her BFA at the Parson School of Art and Design. Emily has a mixed media portfolio where she experiments with different mediums of art, including painting, printmaking, illustration, graphic design and abstract art. The majority of her work use paints, oil pastel and watercolor to express her personal identity and to highlight current issues in society. She enjoys exploring how American fast food not only negatively impacts human health but also harms the environment. In addition, her work explores how immigration should not be a reason to eliminate an immigrant’s status and how fear creates danger. Her work has been presented in the Parsons School of Design Open Studios, MoMA as part of the MoMa in the Making Art Program and Recanati- 92y Art Program at her high school.  Emily is excited to return to the Parsons Scholars Program as a mentor and believes she can support students by sharing her own experiences to build community.

Sophomore Advocates

Kevin Cadena, Youth Advocate

Kevin Cadena is a Colombian-American designer, creative technologist, community organizer and artist who is currently based in Queens, NY. Kevin intersects these mediums together in different ways to critique, enforce or speculate on culture, conventions, and ethics in his environment.

Born in New York and raised in Orlando, Florida, Kevin graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in graphic design. During his time in college, he was involved in planning conferences, workshops, and events around Providence.Since graduating, he has worked with many different organizations ranging from research labs and design agencies to museums and co-working spaces. In his free time, he enjoys supporting local music, playing video games, and reading about politics and culture.

Elizabeth Peralta, Youth Advocate

Native New Yorker, Elizabeth Marina Peralta was born in 1994. They were born to Puerto Rican and Dominican parents. She is an interdisciplinary artist working at the intersection of identity, queerness, fashion, music, movement, performance, and caribbean themes. They use a wide range of skills to craft experiences for the viewer or audience. In 2017, she received a BFA from Parsons School of Design. Through her work she explores her caribbean heritage through color, texture, language, and symbolism. They aim to explore Afrotaíno futures and alternative realities. 

Sophomore Mentors

Daniel Nelson, Mentor

Daniel Nelson is an African American mixed media artist based between Newark, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York. Daniel attended Millennium Brooklyn High School. His body of work includes graphic design, photography, acrylic and oil paintings. His work focuses on creating narratives around race relations, culture, and philosophical inquiries through distorting composition and color. Nelson’s passion for American history, literature, and music has had a major impact on how he views the world. He is currently studying Design and Technology at the Parsons School of art, media, and technology. 

Lesli Dominquez, Mentor

Lesli Dominguez was born in the Dominican Republic and has lived most of her life in the U.S. She currently lives in the Bronx and graduated from the International School for Liberal Arts. Ever since being introduced to anime and videogames by her brother, she has been interested in illustration, digital art, character and concept design. While her ambitions for the future have always been art related, in her free time she watches anime, plays video games, table tennis, and volleyball. Through her passion for art, she wishes to continue advancing and expanding her skills and creative outlook. She is currently studying Illustration at the Parsons School of art, media, and technology. 

Jose Bautista, Mentor

Jose Bautista is an Dominican-American artist & photographer who attended Alfred E. Smith High School. He was born and raised in the Bronx, and his work focuses on urban life and the importance of communities as cultural creators in New York CIty. He focuses on capturing people of color that inhabit low-income environments. He seeks to expand his artistic abilities by integrating his skills in photography with other mediums and software programs. Basketball inspires Jose which is depicted in the majority of his artwork. He is dedicated to the game and through this dedication, has applied the life lessons he learned from basketball to his daily life as a multimedia artist. Those lessons include not leading with entitlement, treating others with respect, and working as a team. Jose is a current Photography Major at The Parsons School of Art Media and Technology.

Office Mentors

Sherleen Montan, Mentor & Office Assistant

Sherleen Montan is a Dominican born artist who currently resides in Brooklyn. She is currently attending the Parsons School of Design as a fashion student. She has exhibited in the living gallery and Brooklyn Borough art show. Her art is very experimental and uses multiple mediums that highlight her identity and background. Her goal is to use her artwork shed light on social issues faced in her home country.

Dirm Luawo, Mentor

Dirm Luawo is a graphic designer from Queens, NY. He graduated from the High School of Art and Design and the Parsons Scholars Program in 2017, and is pursuing his higher education at Parsons, studying Communication Design. His art primarily focuses on the relationship between geometry, visuals and typography in a minimalist manner.

Kadeem Lamorell, Mentor

Kadeem Lamorell is an Artist, Designer, Parsons Scholars Alumni and current Mentor pursuing a BFA in Fashion Design at the Parsons School of Design. He has exhibited in NYC at institutions such as MoMA PS1 and POWRPLNT Galllery. He  co-founded the art collective House of Diablos with Destinee Davidson and Sienna Quijano, as a means to build community with other artists of color. He is notably a National YoungArts Winner.

Before attending Parsons, he attended the High School of Fashion Industries, where he began studying Fashion Design on a more in-depth and professional level. The school provided him opportunities to show his first collection at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Fundraiser and the school's annual Senior Fashion Show. He's also had the opportunity to intern with brand such as Pyer Moss, D'Marsh Couture, Jussara Lee, and Cynthia Rowley.

America Rios Bravo, Mentor & Office Assistant

America Rios Bravo, or Ame (ah-meh), is a first generation Mexican- American artist born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She attended the High School Of Fashion Industries where she learned to develop skills such as fashion illustration, sewing, draping and pattern making. Her work is inspired by street style culture, architecture, social/political issues and related ideologies. Her work has been showcased at the Parsons School of Design Pre-College Academy Open Studios and the High School of Fashion Industries gallery and window displays. As a growing artist she looks forward to establishing a career as a fashion designer and entrepreneur. She is a current Fashion Design Major at The New School.

Junior Steven Clavijo, Mentor & Office Assistant

Junior Steven Clavijo is an artist and designer of Ecuadorian descent, born and raised in Brooklyn where he attended the Brooklyn High School of the Arts. His main interests are in fine arts and architecture. The majority of his work revolves around shifting negative perspectives towards life in a positive direction. Using a variety of mediums he draws inspiration from his surroundings and past experiences incorporating the concept of transformation. His long term goal is to become an architect who creates inspiring spaces that fuel individuals’ creativity through engagement. 

 For three years Steven participated in the Groundswell studio programs, the Cooper Hewitt Scholars Program, the DICE program at Pratt, Parsons Scholars, and was a studio teaching assistant at the Brooklyn Museum. He believes that ideas can hold emotional value and is influenced by an individual's environment as well as their interactions. Steven is a currently pursuing his BFA in Architecture at The New School.